James Gunn is attempting to do something daring- rebooting the mess that was the DCEU. About a year ago, he unveiled his plans for the DCU.
The first film in the franchise is Superman: Legacy, with David Corenswet starring as the titular hero and Rachel Brosnahan as Lois Lane. The film is locked for next year, so it’s still a bit far off.
Yet, many insiders have already begun labeling the DCU ‘a mess’ and ‘doomed.’ So, can their predictions come true? Why are many so pessimistic about a franchise that hasn’t even begun yet?
James Gunn’s DCU is being called a mess for several reasons. Notably, he hasn’t retained stars like Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck for their iconic roles, upsetting Zack Snyder’s DCEU fans. A complete reboot has raised concerns about alienating existing fans. Adding to the challenge are recent underperforming DC films and superhero fatigue among general audiences. Fans also express weariness in keeping up with complex franchise lore.
Explained: Why Do Insiders Think James Gunn’s DCU Is Doomed?
The climb ahead for James Gunn’s DCU isn’t going to be easy, and this is because of multiple intertwined reasons.
Gunn has already rattled feathers by not getting stars like Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot back for their respective roles as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in his DCU.
While many have defended his actions as necessary because he is completely rebooting the DC universe, others have cast doubt.
Some think that simply rebooting the characters into new versions would have been enough instead of replacing famous stars with lesser-known counterparts.
Additionally, fans of Zack Snyder’s DCEU are upset that Gunn isn’t going to keep any aspect of the previous universe.
Many had hoped that if not the main stars, at least those on the periphery, like Sasha Calle’s Supergirl in The Flash, would make it into the DCU.
But that doesn’t seem like a possibility since Gunn is recasting the character, and as per Deadline,
“Milly Alcock, Emilia Jones, and Meg Donnelly are in the mix.”
This has made many insiders fear that the DCU boss is alienating the existing DCEU fanbase.
However, others believe starting clean is the only way forward, mainly because of the dismal box-office performances of the last few strings of DC films.
From The Flash to Blue Beetle, and then some more, DC movies have failed to click with the general audience.
As per The Numbers, Blue Beetle was able to garner only $128 million on a budget of $120 million, while Shazam 2 accumulated a dismal $132 million on a $125 million production budget.
The Flash fell face-first at the box office and earned only $266 million on a whopping $200 million production budget. However, these numbers might be symptoms of a larger problem.
The general audience seems to be getting tired of superhero films. There are complaints of films in this genre being rote and having poor CGI.
Recently, the sequel to the $1 billion Captain Marvel failed to cross the threshold of even $300 million on a production budget of $274 million (via The Numbers).
But that’s not all. Many fans and insiders are side-eyeing James Gunn’s approach to building his DCU, especially adding AAA video games.
Last year, James Gunn unveiled an ambitious plan for the DC Universe (DCU). He explained that DC is venturing into a new realm where animation will seamlessly connect with live-action TV, movies, and games- forming a cohesive universe.
The idea goes beyond simply synchronizing releases; it involves casting actors capable of portraying their characters across various media. What sets this approach apart is the way DC plans to unfold its stories. Gunn clarified (via IGN):
“It’s more like we have the Superman [movie] come out, and then two years later, we have Supergirl coming out. So what’s the story in between there? Is there a [Superman’s dog] Krypto game that we can play that comes in between that’s still set in the world with these characters, but that is its own thing?”
However, the world of video game development is no walk in the park, with numerous delays becoming commonplace.
Considering the extensive pre-production phases and the typical five to six years it takes to complete a major game project, Gunn and DC need to start planning their first game now if they intend to launch it between the Superman and Supergirl movies in 2026-2027.
It’s a bold endeavor that has many insiders think that Gunn is biting off more than he can chew.
A potential spanner has already been thrown into the mix as well- many fans complain that they are tired of keeping track of a franchise’s lore.
Plenty of MCU fans have complained that what used to be fun has begun feeling like homework due to the pace at which the franchise is churning out movies and TV shows. Could the upcoming DCU face this same problem?
Overall, James Gunn is a talented and respected director who made MCU’s The Guardians of the Galaxy a behemoth box-office hit. But can he repeat that with the DCU?
Superman: Legacy will fly in theaters on July 11, 2025.
Do you think James Gunn has been too ambitious in planning the new DC universe? Should he have taken a different approach? How would you have prepared a DCU?
Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.